PCOS affects at least 10% of women and can cause lots of symptoms in addition to fertility troubles. There is a lot of evidence that a good PCOS diet can help alleviate a lot of the hormonal problems and even help avoid the need for medications to counteract PCOS.
Maintaining a balanced diet and a healthy weight can be key in managing PCOS symptoms, by improving the way the body processes glucose, and potentially improving fertility, according to experts.
The PCOS Diet also works to help with inflammation which is common in women suffering from PCOS. Anti-inflammatory foods can help to improve your fertility and balance your hormones naturally.
Below you will find the best foods to eat to improve your PCOS symptoms and the foods to avoid.
You can also download a free PCOS diet meal plan PDF and food list to help you get started.
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What Foods Are Good For PCOS?
The easiest way to think of the PCOS diet is that it is everything you know to be healthy.
It closely resembles the Mediterranean diet with the use of healthy fats like olive oil, lots of fruits and vegetables plus lean meat and fish.
A 2019 Study found that women who followed a mediterranean diet had less incidence of severe PCOS symptoms.
The PCOS diet mainly focuses on healthy carbs, like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains that keep you full for longer.
The idea is to lower your glycemic levels with foods that keep your insulin levels balanced instead of spiking throughout the day.
You want to eat foods that are:
- High in fiber – they keep you full and help to lower your insulin levels
- Antioxidants – these are great for reducing inflammation in the body
If you want to learn more about the kind of fertility diet that can help you get pregnant, this video has a lot of great info.
The Best Foods For A PCOS Diet
Make sure to include the following in your daily diet. I’ve given some examples of each type of food but you can work with what is available where you live.
RELATED POST: Fertility Foods List: Fertility Superfoods That Work!
Seeds are a great food to eat for a snack at any time of day.
You could eat seeds such as pumpkin, chia or sunflower seeds. Add them into salads or eat them on their own.
You can eat any vegetables you like on a PCOS Diet. Things like spinach, broccoli and Kale are especially beneficial and filling.
While all fruits have their place on the PCOS Diet, berries are really a good option as they have a low glycemic index and won’t spike your insulin levels, unlike some other high sugar fruits.
Good berries to eat include blueberries, raspberries and blackberries.
Although the The Fertility Diet limits the amount of carbs you have each day, when you do eat carbs, you should make sure they are whole grains.
Choose things like brown rice, quinoa and whole wheat breads and pastas.
Fish, especially oily fish are full of omega vitamins that are really good for cell development and fertility.
One issue many women with PCOS face is that they produce tons of follicles but they are not great quality. You can improve your egg quality through a healthy diet with lots of protein and omega vitamins among other things.
Eat fish and shellfish such as salmon, shrimp and cod to help your fertility.
Rather than eating a lot of red meat, choose skinless chicken and turkey for your proteins. You can use them for meatballs, salads, burgers and more.
If you are vegetarian then you probably know that beans are a great source of protein for non-meat eaters.
Legumes such as black beans and lentils are great for balancing hormones and lowering insulin levels and should play a big role in your day to day meal planning.
You can find a great recipe for black bean brownies in my post on 10 PCOS Desserts You Can Enjoy Guilt-Free
Nuts are another great source of omega vitamins and are full of fertility boosting minerals. You can eat them as a snack or sprinkle them on your oatmeal in the mornings.
Nuts to eat include walnuts, almonds and pecans.
Olive oil and avocado are examples of good fats that you can use for cookings. In Spain, most people use olive oil alone as a salad dressing because of its healthy benefits.
Teas For PCOS
I’ve written before about the best herbal teas to increase fertility.
One tea that is really good for insulin levels is spearmint. Spearmint tea is a great tea to include in your routine when TTC.
READ MORE: Using Spearmint For PCOS- What You Need To Know
Is Green Tea Good For PCOS?
Green tea is really beneficial for PCOS and fertility.
A 2017 study on the effects of drinking green tea and PCOS found that the consumption of green tea by overweight and obese women suffering from PCOS leads to weight loss, a decrease in fasting insulin, and a decrease in the level of free testosterone.
This in turn helps increase fertility and pregnancy rates.
You can drink decaffeinated green tea if you want to limit your caffeine intake while trying to get pregnant.
READ MORE: Fertility And Caffeine – Is It Really That Bad?
Is banana good for PCOS?
While bananas are rich in potassium and B vitamins, they are also very high in carbs and fruit sugars which may elevate your insulin levels.
You can certainly eat bananas in moderation on a PCOS Diet but it is best to favor fruits such as berries as you can get more “bang for your buck” carb wise.
Is Egg good for PCOS?
Yes! Eggs are an amazing source of protein that are really versatile. You should include them as much as possible in your diet as they can help with egg quality.
When I was trying to get pregnant, I would cook up a big batch of hardboiled eggs and use them for snacks.
What Foods Make PCOS worse?
While there are some foods that can help to improve your fertility and ease your PCOS symptoms, there are also foods to avoid with PCOS.
In general, you want to avoid the following foods:
- Refined Carbs and Processed foods
- Saturated and Trans Fats
- Sugary foods and Drinks
- Dairy (although this is hotly debated)
Refined Carbs And Processed Foods To Avoid
Limit or eliminate foods such as white bread, commercial bakery products.
One of the top questions I get asked by readers is ” Is white rice is bad for PCOS? “
White rice has a very high glycemic index rating and can cause spikes in your blood sugar levels.
You should avoid white rice and pasta and eat whole grain versions instead.
Saturated And Trans Fats
Most people know that there are healthy and unhealthy fats. I already mentioned that olive oil and nuts and seeds are examples of healthy fats.
But what about the unhealthy fats?
Avoiding processed food will go a long way to eliminating trans fats from your diet. If you make your meals from scratch, you can likely completely avoid trans fats pretty easily.
Red meat is the main source of saturated fats in the Western diet so substituting it for lean poultry and fish is the best thing to do.
Sugary Foods And Drinks
Does cutting out sugar help PCOS?
It definitely can help and it is recommended that you cut out as much sugary foods as possible.
Candy, pastries and soda should all be avoided with a PCOS Diet. They spike insulin levels and cause inflammation in the body.
Alcohol is high in sugars and is not recommended in the PCOS diet. It is also bad for your liver which is one of the weak spots in women with PCOS (Fatty liver is common).
As alcohol is not recommended during pregnancy, it is wise to cut back or eliminate completely while you are trying to conceive.
Is milk bad for PCOS?
There are a lot of different thoughts on whether you should avoid dairy if you have PCOS.
A study published in the International Journal Of Preventative Medicine, showed that while the link between dairy and PCOS was not clear, there was a direct relationship between milk consumption and risk of PCOS.
One very interesting fact that was discovered in the study was that high fat dairy products may have a beneficial effect on fertility in women with PCOS while low-fat and fat-free dairy may do the opposite.
Here is what the study reports:
“As per the results of the past studies, there is a positive relationship between low-fat milk and PCOS. Low-fat dairy products may increase the level of insulin like growth factor I”
“The frequent increased insulin sensitivity in the high-fat dairy consumers may improve their ovulation performance”
The PCOS Diet Meal Ideas
If you are looking for some great meal ideas for the PCOS diet, I have compiled some lists of recipes that are packed with fertility foods that can help your PCOS symptoms.
What is the best breakfast for PCOS?
For breakfast consider the best choices for PCOS include:
Avoid sugary juices and breakfast cereals that have little to no nutritional value.
Here are 50 Delicious PCOS Breakfast Ideas to try.
Free PCOS Food List and PCOS Meal Plan PDF
If you want a PCOS food list and a PCOS meal plan, you can download my free ebook below.
The ebook contains a PCOS food list, a one week meal plan to get you started plus links to over 100 recipes that are PCOS-friendly.
Just fill out the form below to download your PCOS Meal Plan PDF instantly.
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